How to Measure the Use of Technology in Teaching and Learning
The use of technology in teaching and learning, as well as digital tools are no longer these novel concepts that only those schools get to use. This is a powerful notion. As educators, our collective access to technology is grand. But with great power, comes great responsibility. We’re responsible for using this technology to effectively improve the lives and learning of our students.
Simply using technology for technology’s sake just doesn’t cut it. Dr. Michael Cowling, a Senior Lecturer of Educational Technology, puts it well: “The technology we introduce must serve a purpose and that purpose must be to enhance learning through improving pedagogy.” Seamless integration—rather than simply digitized static content—is the goal. But how do we reach it?
The Spectrum of Technology Integration
We start by understanding the spectrum of integration to ensure that our intentions are aligned with our realities. The spectrum is most commonly known as the SAMR model, which stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition and represents the four degrees of technological integration in the classroom. It covers everything from the subtle supplementation of instruction to completely redefining the practice of teaching.
This is the most basic level of technology integration. Essentially, technology acts as a replacement for traditional by-hand methods of instruction. Take an overhead projector, for example. Presentations, instead of being drawn on a blackboard, can be transmitted via this electronic tool. While technology is being used, it does not functionally change the method of teaching.
Augmentation takes substitution a small step further by taking advantage of the functional changes that the technological substitution provides. In the previous example with the overhead projector, the use of this tool transitions from simple substitution to augmentation when its other features, like sound and animation, are used to amplify traditional presentations.
Moving along the spectrum towards complete integration, modification takes place when teaching tasks are partially or entirely redesigned based on technology and digital tools. Now—instead of a traditional lesson in which the teacher presents information lecture-style accompanied by the use of the overhead projector—we can introduce innovative ideas like the flipped classroom where students watch videos at home and apply their learning in class.
At its ultimate capacity technology integration allows teachers to go beyond modified instruction and create completely new methods of teaching that were inconceivable before this level of integration. For example, students may be required to complete a project for which they have to connect with and share information with students around the world via social media.
4 Questions to Determine The Effectiveness of Your Tech Us
Even with a better understanding of the spectrum, evaluating the use of technology in teaching and learning is not something many educators or administrators are trained to do. When you walk into a classroom and see every student on a device, it’s easy to assume that they are effectively integrating technology to the highest degree. But how do you really know what learning is taking place and how it will contribute to the growth and success of students?
Consider these four questions as a foundational basis for measuring the effectiveness of the technology you use:
Is Technology Being Used Simply Because It’s Available?
So, you’ve got this projector, so you use it just because it’s easier than writing everything on the board. Sure, you’re dabbling with technology, but it does not have a significant impact on the learning process, if any at all.
Does The Technology Only Allow Students And Teachers To Do Old Things In Old Ways?
You take your students to the school library and allow them to research on the internet rather than in an encyclopedia. A great way to use technology? Definitely. But it only replaces the way we’ve always done things. Maybe a little faster and easier. Maybe even a little more enjoyable. In the end, though, it accomplishes the exact same thing we’ve been doing for decades.
Does The Technology Allow Students And Teachers To Do Old Things In New Ways?
Now let’s say you visit a country or battle site you’ve been studying using Google Maps. These are by no means “new things”, simply new ways of doing old things. Rather than traveling across the world by plane or boat, we use technology to visit a place virtually.
Is The Technology Creating New and Enhanced Learning Experiences For Students?
Ah, we’ve reached our metaphorical destination. At this point. The use of technology in teaching and learning is opening doors that are virtually deadbolted without it. Maybe students are able to create and share their work with an audience that they would have never had access to, or interact with content that in a meaningful way that couldn’t have happened otherwise.
It requires a new way of looking at learning, which can be intimidating at first, but no matter where you fall on the spectrum, making a conscious effort towards the highest level of technology integration will have an impact on the success of your students.
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